Have you ever woken up in the morning with a kink in your neck? Was it hard to rotate your head to one side? Did you feel the pain into your upper back? Well, this may have been your Levator Scapulae that was causing you all the pain.
Your Levator Scapulae (or Lev Scap for short) are the muscles on either side of your neck that originate at the top four vertebrae of your neck and connect down to the top of the inner angle of your scapula. As its name suggests, the Levator Scapulae elevates your scapula (shoulder blade). Think of the action of shoulder shrugs. It also rotates your neck to the same side as you look over your shoulder and bends your ear toward that same side of your shoulder. It helps stabilize your neck from falling forward when looking downward, as well.
Usually the Levator Scapulae causes you pain due to an overuse injury or strain. Some common ways that may cause your Lev Scap to start to cause you pain are:
If you find yourself with the kink in your neck and the pain is felt down into your rhomboid area of you upper back, it is most likely due to the Levator Scapulae being angry with you. There are some things you can do to help alleviate the pain. Most often, for muscle strains, you can:
Your Levator Scapulae may not be one of the biggest muscles in your body, but it sure can cause a lot of pain if it is out of sorts. For more severe or chronic neck pain issues, it may be best to see a chiropractor and have them examine to see if you need some manual manipulations of the cervical or upper thoracic spine. Misalignment in your bone structures and spine can cause your muscles to be strained and thus cause stiff neck pains. All these neck pains can cause poor sleeping, stress, and anxiety. Not to mention the limitations of movement in every day required activities! No one likes to wake up to a kink in their neck and have limited mobility. Do what you can to prevent your Lev Scap from acting up and address the issue right away when they do happen. Let’s keep that neck happy!
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.